How One “Hedgehog Lady” Rediscovers Her Purpose

This woman never hesitated when a newborn hedgehog found homeless and needed a home.

Courtesy Ruby Thorne Thomsen

I’ve been a “Hedgehog Lady” for over a decade, a well-known spike whisperer who generally has an emotional support animal so hidden in a pouch on my body that you wouldn’t even notice when I took him to work, snoozing the day away as nocturnal critters are inclined to do. I’ve learned a lot of secrets and loved a lot of people over the years, but it all started with a Craigslist ad in 2013…

I was browsing the web when something struck my eye: a chubby pincushion with rolls of fat and wrinkles, only the size of a golf ball and dwarfed by the hand that held him. “HELP!” read the ad. I can’t go to school full-time and raise both of my hedgehog’s offspring because she abandoned them. Good house with experience required ASAP!”

I’d never worked with baby hedgehogs before. I was an animal lover at heart, having reared orphan kittens, guinea pigs, birds, and turtles. But this small thing was unfamiliar to me, and it moved me that he had been rejected, and that perhaps I could love him and be his finest mother. I’d recently experienced a loss at four months and was longing for a small baby to need me.

I wrote the most emotional appeal I could, expressing my belief that we needed each other and that I already loved him. That’s how I came upon Louie. He was, as promised, my baby.

He quickly gained a feeling of self-assurance and swagger that belied his little stature. Lou had no idea he was a hedgehog, or that his spikes were an excellently evolved protective mechanism.

He never flared up or curled up in a ball, and he had no fear of my two cats. The cats, on the other hand, were terrified of him since he had a habit of barging into rooms, peeping like a young bird, and generally being troublesome (chasing the cats and harassing my feet).

Louie had just three feet by the time he reached old age, and he used his stump as a peg leg. He was still a “Houdini Hog” who planned elaborate escapes from his confinement, ascending the stairs to peek loudly at the other hedgehogs. He was unmistakably himself and fully at ease in any situation. He assisted me in realizing my boyhood goal of photographing hedgehogs, a pastime that began with guinea pigs and dollhouses. I enjoy showcasing his modeling abilities.

The significance we give to life stems from the goals we set for ourselves. Lou needed a nice home and mother, and I got to be a good mother and needed in return. Hedgehogs take a lot of patience, trust, and expertise, but the rewards are huge.